An unnatural thing

One of our readers, DaMama7,  wrote a response to Sleepless that really touched my heart in so many ways.

“How do I tolerate his small efforts? How do I let him touch me without cringing inside? How do I open up and then act like nothing happened? I am learning how to navigate and learning so slowly how to distance myself or really my heart; but what an unnatural thing to have to learn to do.” DaMama7

DaMama7, if I’d found my blog when I was back in time, I’m not sure what I would have done differently, but at least I would have felt less crazy and alone.

My experience with my truly passive aggressive husband is that while he wants what he wants, he doesn’t want to have to listen to me. I almost laugh writing that. It’s much as you described, and so many times in the past years he’s asked, and then fallen asleep after I poured my heart out. If that was shown in a fast reel loop in a film, it would be dark comedy.

I want to respond to your questions, and I hope that you really do begin to gain the ground that will keep you from further loss in the future.

My first best counsel is to take care of you. Cultivate a mindfulness about what you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Be aware of what you can actually do to care for yourself, and then don’t talk yourself out of it (easy to do as a mother!). This is the most important thing. Work at learning to love yourself and know yourself.  Healthy self care is absolutely critical to a relatively happy and peaceful life.  I wasn’t taught that, and it’s been the costliest lesson to learn.

The next thing I’d encourage you to do is to gain a vision of a happier you, and then start to formulate the goals required to make your new vision a reality.
Be so careful and aware of all your choices. Each choice will lead you closer to to those goals, or away from them. The easiest thing is to make choices that keep us enmeshed.  It’s familiar, and often the path of least resistance.  For me, it takes much work and effort to stop in the moment to keep myself accountable for my own goals.

No matter how my heart has agonized and felt torn and shredded (the happy family dream), I now really see that the best thing for my kids is a healthy me.  This means an independent me, since my desire for interdependence and mutual respect is not a goal that I can reach alone.  It’s a goal that partners with healthy mutual respect and regard reach together.  Chasing that was the false road that derailed me for so many years, and also my not even seeing divorce as an option at all.  You have to see something as a choice to even consider it, and that took many years for me.

Whatever it takes, I encourage you to work towards independence.  Then the day will come when you’re with your husband truly from choice, and nothing else.  In that day, you can truly make a choice with the practical feet in place to walk it.  My husband consistently sabotaged my efforts over the years, until I reached the point that I’d choose to live on someone’s couch than to be stopped again.  He knows now that I’ll push the red nuclear button and just blow it all up in our relationship before I’ll tolerate the kind of sabotage that I experienced in the past.

You have more strength than you know, and if you have a baby, you’re much younger than you know.  Believe me on that one, and cherish and use it while you have it.  I didn’t see my crash coming years ago, and so I now let the ingloriousness of my life hang out here because I hope that you (and others) can avoid it altogether.  It’s humiliating, but in the best way.  The truth will set us free.

What you’re living with is unnatural.  What you’re required to do is unnatural, and it will feel unnatural to change course in the beginning.  Keep praying, keep faith, and keep holding to a new course and direction.

With much hope for you,
PJ

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2 Responses to An unnatural thing

  1. DaMama7 says:

    PJ, thank you so much. I will take your very wise counsel to heart. I really do feel understood and that in itself is very comforting. God has slowly opened my eyes and mind to what is going on in my marriage. I believe I am being guided and lead through it. I will consider counseling for us as a couple in the future maybe but I couldn’t imagine going with him now because I feel I need to strengthen myself first. I have talked with my pastor and his wife and they were very supportive but it was before I really understood the whole width and breadth of how my husband’s PA abuse infiltrated itself into pretty much every ounce of my being. PA abuse is so difficult and exhausting to explain! It’s like trying to get someone to look at the clouds and see the same animal shape that you see floating by. And the just when I am 100% sure I am being really injured and mistreated something happens and I talk myself into thinking I have exaggerated everything and things are really pretty good. Like I said before, when we were younger he was very deliberate with his attacks and making sure they were mean; now he is not so mean, outright and obviously mean. I have a gym membership. I have a goal to lose 5 pounds. When I say I have a baby, he is actually 2 but still nurses. I am able to leave the house to workout and my older kids are super supportive! When our kids were younger I used to tell my husband that when the kids got older I would tell them how much he ignored them and wouldn’t have had anything to do with them unless I practically forced my husband to. But as I got older and the kids did too, I realized for their best interest and to not go against my conscience I could not tell them any of that. I would paint their father in the best light. Now that they are older I have come to realize I never had to tell them anything about their father because he has shown then himself with his own behavior. I have some amazing kids :D. PJ, if you believe in The Lord as some of your posts have reflected you do, then be encouraged. He never wastes anything in our lives. You are a great source of comfort, not just to me but fellow readers and your own family as well. You are His child and He has used you to strengthen others as we walk through this very trying unnatural ordeal. You matter. I matter. Even our husbands do! I think my husband has so many great qualities and it makes me sad that all the world is missing out of them, just like we are missing out on what your husband could contribute to you, your family, and the world. I am rambling now. Thanks so much for all you have done to bring comfort to all your readers. I appreciate you 🙂

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    • WritesinPJ's says:

      DaMama7, your supportive words mean so much.

      My baby is thirteen now. I just wish I knew a decade ago what I know now.

      I doubt you’ll be able to really explain to your pastor or anyone what passive aggressive abuse really means, but it could be helpful to get a copy of A Cry For Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood to share with your pastor. Pastor Jeff Crippen is part of a good website that is great support for Christians who are victims of abuse.

      http://cryingoutforjustice.com/author/jeffcrippen/

      I also recommend Dr. George Simon’s website to help understand covert abuse:

      http://www.manipulative-people.com/

      Last thought is to be very wary of couple’s counseling. I found every counselor/therapist/psychologist to be charmed by my husband, and too often my husband would later use some of it as a more sophisticated and savvy way to manipulate me. I would never advise anyone to see a counselor unless you were certain they were experienced and knowledgeable about abuse.

      Meanwhile, it’s been so nice to ‘meet’ you, and I hope you’ll be sharing often!

      Like

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